dictionary terms


may help improve balance, coordination and short-term memory, may also help prevent urinary tract infections, powerful antioxidant


A drug taken to mitigate the effects of an allergic reaction. Antihistamines block the product and distribution of histamines throughout the body.


Any substance that reduces the damage caused by oxidation, such as the harm caused by free radicals. They take the force of free radicals’ attacks on the body, preventing damage to the body’s tissues. Powerful antioxidant foods include brightly colored fruits and vegetables, walnuts, pistachios, beans, and spices; vitamins C and E, plus carotene, are the most common sources.


Ayurveda, translated as the “science of life,” is a system of medicine that utilizes various therapies including diet, yoga, and herbal preparations, to restore harmony and balance within the body.

The principles of Ayurveda are based on the concept of of three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – which are dynamic forces with distinct characteristics that shape all things in the universe.

In humans, the doshas control all mental, emotional, and physical functions and responses. They also produce individual preferences in food and regulate internal processes like elimination and digestion. When we work in accordance with these doshas, we can find balance and optimal physical and mental function.



A phytochemical that helps slow down aging and can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Commonly found in mango, cantaloupe, apricots, papaya, kiwifruit, carrots, pumpkins, broccoli, spinach, and kale.


Bisphenol-A, a chemical leached from plastics made from polycarbonate. BPA disrupts hormone regulation: it mimics estrogen and has been associated with problems such as early onset puberty, diminished sperm and hyperactivity.


A substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue. Carcinogens can be found in many chemical additives, preservatives, and as the by-product of cooking foods.

complex carbohydrate

Complex carboyhydrates are made up of three or more sugars, which are linked together in a chain. These are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Their complex structures means they take longer to digest and provide lasting, sustainable energy to the body. Complex carbohydrates are commonly found in vegetables (spinach, yams, broccoli, zucchini), legumes, and whole-meal bread and cereals.


A product derived from evaporating the water from a food (usually a fruit or vegetable). Products reconstituted by adding water to the concentrate may be sold as ‘juice’.


The agricultural practice of producing food with the use of pesticides and/ or synthetic growth hormones and/ or genetic modification.


Any vegetable of the “Cruciferae” mustard family: mustard greens; various cabbages [kale, bokchoy]; broccoli; cauliflower; brussels sprouts; turnips. These provide ample vitamins, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Best eaten raw or lightly steamed to preserve nutritional value.


A food preparation technique that involves removing the moisture from a food. Usually heated to no more than 125 degrees Fahrenheit, dehydrated foods’ nutritional content is preserved: enzymes and vitamins are not destroyed at low temperatures. Dehydration is also a means of preserving fresh foods. Always drink water when consuming dehydrated foods to aid in digestions and assimilation.


Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge. Common examples include magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium, and phosphorous. These affect the amount of water in your body, blood pH, muscle function, and other processes. Fluids help replace and rebalance our electrolyte levels.

ellagic acid

Ellagic acid may reduce the risk of certain cancers because of its strong antioxidant properties. Food sources include blackberries, cranberries, pecans, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, walnuts, and grapes.


Large molecules – made mostly of proteins – responsible for chemical reactions and conversions that sustain life. Each enzyme is a catalyst for a specific internal function, including metabolic reactions, digestion, and the synthesis of DNA.

essential fatty acids

Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fatty acids that humans and other animals must ingest because the body requires them for good health but cannot synthesize them. The term “essential fatty acid” refers to fatty acids required for biological processes but does not include the fats that only act as fuel. Only two EFAs are known to be essential for humans: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Other fatty acids that are only “conditionally essential” include, gamma-linolenic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid), lauric acid (a saturated fatty acid), and palmitoleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid).


The indigestible portion of plant-food; it adds volume and bulk to digested material. Fibre can be soluble (dissvoles in water and slows the digestive process) and insoluble (which absorbs water as it moves through the digestive tract, speeding the rate of excretion).


Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is widely available in plant-foods (think ‘folic acid’ = ‘foliage’) and is widely recommended for pregnant women because of its essential effects on neural tube development and healthy birth weight. Good food sources include vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables), fruits, nuts, beans, and peas. Spinach, yeast, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts are among the foods with the highest levels of folate.


Foods that have vitamins and minerals added to increase nutritional value. Common additives are iron, folic acid, calcium, and vitamin D.

free radicals

Toxic by-products formed by the body as it uses oxygen; these cause oxidative damage to the cells of the body. Free radicals come from smoking, pollution, poisons, fried foods, and as a by-product of normal metabolism. Free radical damage is associated with an increased risk of many chronic diseases. “Antioxidants” such as vitamin C, carotenes and vitamin E reduce the damage caused by free radicals.

glycemic index

The glycemic index, or GI, measures how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose. Foods are ranked based on how they compare to a reference food– either glucose or white bread. A food with a high GI raises blood glucose more than a food with a medium or low GI.


Foods that have been produced using genetic engineering (using genes from another species to give a product certain traits) or growth hormones. Evidence of the effects of these mutations on human health are being researched.


A compound found in citrus fruits, hesperidin may protect against heart diseases and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In nature, it plays a role in defending plants from predators and bacteria. Research has shown it can have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects.


The chemical (a neurotransmitter) that the body releases when it reacts allergically to a substance. Symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes.


Proper intake of fluids and fluid-filled foods to maintain the body’s fluid balance. Hydration promotes electrolyte balance; nervous system functioning; cell growth; cleansing, excretion, and toxin removal; and body temperature regulation. Adults males should aim for 13 glasses of water per day; women should aim for 9.


Hydrogenation creates trans fats. It is the process of heating an oil and passing hydrogen bubbles through it. The fatty acids in the oil then acquire some of the hydrogen, which makes it more dense. A fully hydrogenated oil creates a solid fat; a semi-solid partially hydrogenated oil that has a consistency like butter. These are added to foods to add richness and flavor without the cost of adding butter, as well as shelf-stability. Some trans fats occur naturally in lamb, beef, butterfat and dairy. 


A mineral that is integral of many essential proteins and enzymes in the body.It facilitates oxygen transport within the bloodstream and promotes healthy cell growth. Iron deficiency (or anemia) can lead to fatigue and decreased immune function. Heme iron comes from animal sources (from “hemoglobin”, or blood); nonheme iron comes from plant-sources and is the type used in fortified foods or as additives. Good whole food plant-based iron sources include tofu, spinach, beans, and legumes, lentils.